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JC! 8718 

Bureau of Mines Information Circular/1976 

Reclaiming Strip-Mined Land 

for Recreational Use 

in Lackawanna County, Pa. 

A Demonstration Project 



Information Circular 8718 

Reclaiming Strip-Mined Land 

for Recreational Use 

in Lackawanna County, Pa. 

A Demonstration Project 

By Frank C. Andreuzzi 

Division of Environment Field Office, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 


Thomas S. Kleppe, Secretary 


Thomas V. Falkie, Director 

The work upon which this report is based was done under a cooperative agreement between the Bureau of Mines, 
U.S. Department of the Interior, and Lackawanna County, Pa. 

This publication has been cataloged as follows: 

Andreuzzi, Frank C 

Reclaiming strip-mined land for recreational 
wanna County, Pa.: a demonstration project. 
U.S. Bureau of Mines [1976] 

use in Lacka- 

21 p. illus. (U.S. Bureau of Mines. 



n cir 


ar 8718) 

Includes bibliography. 

Based on work done in cooperation with 




1. Strip mining— Pennsylvania— Lackaw 
mation of land. I. U.S. Bureau of Mines. 


a Cou 

. (Se 



TN23.U71 no. 8718 622.06173 

U.S. Dept. of the Int. Library 



Abstract 1 

Introduction 1 

Acknowledgments 2 

Project site 2 

Reclamation 7 

Phase 1 7 

Phase 2 9 

Phase 3 15 

Overview 16 

Bibliography 21 


1. Project location map 3 

2 . Aerial view prior to reclamation 4 

3. Winter scene of typical despoiled terrain 5 

4. Topography of the project site prior to reclamation 6 

5. Existing natural pond 7 

6. Shredding waste brush to be recycled for use in the pine bark trails 8 

7. General backfilling and grading 8 

8. Loading red dog from a burned-out coal refuse bank 10 

9. Rolling recycled red dog on a parking area 10 

10. Grading for the manmade pond 11 

1 1 . Manmade pond • 11 

12. Screening spoil bank material for recycling as topsoil 12 

13. Applying topsoil 12 

14. Seeding and fertilizing 13 

15 . Typical stone rubble gutter 15 

16. Trail leading into the natural wooded area 16 

17. View overlooking manmade pond 17 

18 . Map of Keyser Park 18 

19. Anthracite museum 19 

20. Hoist 19 

21. Raw coal tipple 20 


A Demonstration Project 


Frank G Andreuzzi 1 


The Federal Bureau of Mines conducted a demonstration project to reclaim 
125 acres of abandoned strip-mined land in Lackawanna County , Pa., for public 
recreational, historical, and educational use as a park. The Bureau was 
involved in the development of the general site plan, and engineered and 
supervised the basic land rehabilitation. 

The park's facilities include outdoor recreational activities, picnic 
grounds, children's play areas, primitive overnight camping, and winter 
sports. A major attraction is the Anthracite Museum constructed by the 
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. 

The project may serve as a prototype for reclaiming existing and future 
surface-mined lands. 


At present (1976) the United States is experiencing an energy crisis 
owing largely to the exponential growth of energy consumption, the dwindling 
domestic supply of natural gas and oil, and the impact of safety and environ- 
mental standards on production and consumption. The temporary foreign oil 
embargo during the winter of 1973-74 aggravated the energy situation and 
emphasized the effect of any future oil embargos . 

The Federal Government and the private sector has accelerated their 
research and development programs to increase production from current energy 
sources and to develop new sources for the future. Currently, coal appears 
to be the fuel most likely to fill our short-term energy needs and become a 
major contributor to our goal of energy independence. 

Coal is the Nation's most abundant fossil fuel; conservative estimates 
predict a several-hundred-year supply. Therefore, all aspects of coal's 
capabilities are being explored. These programs are to be economically fea- 
sible and compatible with environmental criteria. 

1 General engineer. 

To achieve energy independence by the next decade, coal must be produced 
at an estimated rate of 900 million tons per year to meet conventional require- 
ments. By 1985, depending upon the magnitude of substituting coal for other 
fuels, coal production may exceed 1.04 billion tons per year. In 1973, 598 
million tons of coal were mined. Of this amount, approximately 47 percent was 
mined by the strip-mining method. 

Since surface mining offers several advantages over deep mining, the per- 
centage of strip-mined coal will increase in future production. Thus, the 
production forecasts indicate that enormous tracts will be strip-mined to 
recover coal. The demand for other commodities normally mined by surface 
methods will add to the disturbed acreage, and existing devastated land due to 
past surface mining must be added to these expanded totals) The need for 
reclaiming disturbed land has been recognized by all levels of government and 
the private sector. This awareness has prompted decisive action, such as the 
project described in the report. 

In this project the Division of Environment, Federal Bureau of Mines, 
through a cooperative agreement with the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Depart- 
ment, Lackawanna County, Pa., reclaimed an abandoned strip -mined area near 
Scranton by developing it into a public recreational, historical, and educa- 
tional park. The completed project, named Keyser Park, exemplifies one way 
of restoring acreage disturbed by strip mining. 


Special recognition is made to the National Park Service, U.S. Department 

of the Interior, for supplying landscape architectural service, and to the 

Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, for conducting soil sampling 
and recommending revegetation species. 


The demonstration project is located partly in the City of Scranton and 
partly in the adjoining Borough of Taylor, Pa. (fig. 1). The park site com- 
prises 125 acres. Lackawanna County owns 118 acres, and the Pennsylvania 
Historical and Museum. Commission acquired 7 acres for the museum site; these 
holdings include title to the mineral rights. 

The area had been extensively mined to recover anthracite by both under- 
ground and strip-mining methods. Eight beds of coal lie beneath the park 
site. The beds range from 4 to 13 feet thick and lie in stratigraphic 
sequence from 100 feet below the surface at the basin, or low point, for the 
top bed to about 400 feet to the bottom bed. Anthracite mining began at this 
location around 1900 and continued until 1966; most of the coal was deep- 
mined. However, six of the eight beds had outcrops (coal which appears at or 
near the surface) and these outcroppings were strip -mined, creating the 
devastation common to abandoned stripping operations. When further mining 
became impractical, all activities ceased and the area was abandoned without 
any attempt at reclamation. An aerial view prior to the reclamation effort 




FIGURE 1. - Project location map. 

(fig. 2) shows a portion of the devastation, as does the winter scene shown in 
figure 3. 

Figure 4 is an artist's drawing illustrating the topography of the proj- 
ect site prior to the reclamation work. The existing natural vegetative 
growth and contour lines are not shown to avoid congestion and improve defini- 
tion. The sketch simply shows the extent of the disturbed areas and does not 
indicate elevations. However, the mine entrance is approximately 45 feet 
below the surface and the stripping pits ranged from 15 to 40 feet deep with 
corresponding heights of spoil piles. The abandoned mine workings will remain 
intact, pending future restoration. The Lucky Run Creek and the natural 
spring-fed pond (fig. 5) will remain relatively undisturbed. 

FIGURE 3. - Winter scene of typical despoiled terrain. 

FIGURE 5. - Existing natural pond. 


The Division of Environment, Bureau of Mines funded, engineered, and con- 
ducted the basic reclamation work in three phases. Each phase was initiated 
in sequence during a 3-year period. This extended period was necessary to 
allow for seasonal construction activities and for seeding and planting 
requirements. All work was contracted through competitive bidding. 

Phase 1 

The work accomplished in this phase consisted of clearing and grubbing, 
backfilling the open pits and general grading, and constructing parking lots 
and secondary roads. 

Approximately 65 acres required clearing and grubbing. During this work 
the dead and unsatisfactory vegetation was shredded (fig. 6) and stockpiled. 
This material was recycled to form a base for the pine bark trails constructed 
under phase 3. 

The stripping pits were backfilled with the existing earth spoil banks 
(fig. 7). The restored areas were then compacted and graded to conform and 
blend with the surrounding contours. The areas reserved for the various 
facilities were graded accordingly. Over 366,000 cubic yards of material were 
moved to accomplish this. 

The parking lots and secondary roads were constructed of ash commonly 
called red dog, which is a product of a local burned-out coal refuse bank 

FIGURE 6. - Shredding waste brush to be recycled for use in the pine bark trails. 

FIGURE 7. - General backfilling and grading. 

(fig. 8). The ash is predominantly red in color, which enhances the rustic 
character of the park, and it was furnished at no cost. When compacted prop- 
erly, this material forms a fairly durable road surface (fig. 9). 

The actual cost per acre for this phase was $2,300. 

Phase 2 

The major items of work in this phase included construction of a pond and 
related creek work, applying topsoil, and revegetation. 

A scenic pond was constructed on the site (figs. 10-11), measuring about 
100 feet wide by 400 feet long and 4 feet deep. To maintain a relatively 
impervious bottom, the wetted surfaces were especially treated. Prior to 
filling the pond with water, a bentonite clay was applied to the bottom and 
the inner embankments. The clay was spread at the rate of 3 pounds per square 
yard and thoroughly mixed with the top 6 inches of surface soil and compacted. 
No loss of water due to seepage was observed over a period of 2 years. 

The Lucky Run Creek, which winds through the park site, supplies the 
water for the pond. The creek drains the watershed northwest of the park site 
and requires no special water treatment. A portion of the creek flows over an 
area that had been extensively strip-mined and has considerable permeability. 
To control seepage through this area, a slightly coarser bentonite clay was 
applied directly on the creek bottom during periods of low-volume flow. Six 
applications were made during a 1-year period, and no appreciable loss of flow 
was observed. However, periodic applications should be made depending on 
conditions . 

To insure a continuous supply of fresh water for the pond, two 6 -inch 
pipelines divert water by gravity from the creek through a common inlet pipe. 
Each pipeline receives water through a concrete inlet structure or check dam 
constructed across the creek. The check dams are located about 1,100 feet 
apart and straddle the disturbed surface. Gate valves located near the inlet 
structures are used to control the flow. Normally, the downstream inlet sup- 
plies ample water and the upstream valve remains closed. However, during a 
period of low precipitation and/or excessive seepage, the upstream inlet sup- 
plements any decrease in flow. The pond outlet discharges downstream in the 
creek through a trickletube and pipeline. The concrete and rubble stone 
spillway discharges directly into the creek. All piping is underground 
including the valves, which are protected in accessible concrete valve boxes. 

Topsoil was applied only to areas requiring a suitable surface for a par- 
ticular activity; 52 of the 65 cleared acres had topsoil added. A total of 
68,000 cubic yards of topsoil was applied. Forty percent of this amount com- 
prised what may be considered recycled soil. Nearby spoil banks were donated 
by the landowners through releases. This material was screened to pass 
through a 1-1/2-inch mesh screen (fig. 12) and then spread to a depth of 
6 inches after light compaction (fig. 13). Analyses of the screened soil 
showed the need for the following chemical amendments per acre: 500 pounds of 
hydrated lime (CaCo 3 ), 80 pounds of nitrogen (N) , 100 pounds of phosphorus 

FIGURE 8. - Loading red dog from a burned-out coal refuse bank. 

IS- ft. 

FIGURE 9. - Rolling recycled red dog on a parking area. 


FIGURE 10. - Grading for the manmade pond. 

FIGURE 11. - Manmade pond. 

FIGURE 12. - Screening spoil bank material for recycling as topsoil. 

FIGURE 13. - Applying topsoil. 


pentoxide (P 2 5 ), and 50 pounds of potassium oxide (KgO). The additional 
topsoil was obtained from a nearby abandoned farm and required no screening. 
The soil amendments per acre consisted from zero to 1.5 tons of lime, 80 
pounds of nitrogen, 50 pounds of phosphorus, and 100 pounds of potassium. All 
of these soil amendments represent the initial applications. Additional 
samples were analyzed as the work progressed, and the amendments were adjusted 

In general, the grass seed consisted of the following formula per acre: 
3 pounds of weeping love grass, 15 pounds of Kentucky 31 tall fescue, and 15 
pounds of red fescue. In addition, on steep areas subject to erosion, 8 
pounds of crownvetch seed per acre were added to the grass seed mixture. 
The area surrounding the manmade pond was seeded with a high-quality commer- 
cial lawn mix. 

About 13 acres designated as open play areas were not topsoiled. The 
results of the soil analyses indicated the following soil amendments per 
acre: 1 ton of lime, 40 pounds of nitrogen, and 150 pounds of phosphorus. 
The grass seed consisted of the following formula per acre: 2 pounds of weep- 
ing love grass, 15 pounds of Kentucky 31 tall fescue, and 8 pounds of birds- 
foot trefoil. Eight pounds of crownvetch seed were substituted for the 
birdsfoot trefoil on the steep slopes. Figure 14 shows the seeding and fer- 
tilizing by hydraulic broadcasting. 

In addition to the grass cover, the planting of trees and shrubs was a 
major segment of revegetation. The plants selected are native to the region 

FIGURE 14. - Seeding and fertiliz 


and adaptable to this type of soil. A compilation of the plants by their 
common name follows: 

Quantity 1 
Specimen trees, 6 feet plus: 

White pine 14 

Scotch pine 5 

Austrian pine 109 

Red pine 12 

European beech 1 

Shagbark hickory 3 

Japanese pagoda 1 

Little leaf linden 6 

Tulip ' 5 

Red oak 113 

White oak 3 

Red map le 10 

Trees (whips), 4 feet plus: 

Hybrid poplar 1,100 

Black locust 1,100 

European white birch 750 

Red maple 250 

Trees, seedlings, and/or cuttings: 

Hybrid poplar 3,500 

Black locust 3 ,500 

European birch 2 , 900 

Austrian pine 1,100 

Red oak 1,400 

Japanese larch 200 

European larch 200 

Shrubs, 3 feet plus: 

Autumn olive 120 

Arrowwood 90 

Chockspur thorn 55 

Apple service berry 70 

Ground cover, p lugs: Crownvetch 800 

1 Quantities reflect the total amounts planted, since planting was done in both 
phases 2 and 3. 

All of the revegetation was relatively successful. The grasses survived 
completely and now provide adequate ground cover and erosion control. Gener- 
ally, the survival rate for the newly planted trees and shrubs may be consid- 
ered normal. The unsatisfactory plants were replaced at no expense to the 
Government. This requirement was stipulated in the contract specifications. 

The contracted price to accomplish this work amounted to $3,000 per 



Phase 3 

This phase 
included the con- 
struction of an 
extensive complex 
of mortared rubble 
gutters and a net- 
work of walking 
trails, together 
with miscellaneous 
seeding and 

The rubble 
gutters are func- 
tional in divert- 
ing runoff into 
the creek. They 
were constructed 
of locally quar- 
ried, colorful 
stone (fig. 15). 
The stone was set 
and mortared in a 
random fashion, 
thereby comple- 
the rural nature of the park. The gutters range from 5 to 10 feet 
the top, and the combined total length is over 0.8 mile. Wooden foot- 
were constructed across the gutters to interconnect with the walking 

FIGURE 15. - Typical stone rubble gutter. 

The 1-1/2 miles of trails provide a pleasant hike through the wooded 
areas and scenic access interconnecting the recreational facilities. The 
trail through the natural wooded areas (fig. 16) consists of nugget -size pine 
bark chips compacted over the random wood chips which were shredded and stock- 
piled during the clearing and grubbing work in phase 1. The walk along the 
manmade pond was constructed of asphalt and the surface was colored to comple- 
ment the pine bark chips. 

The total cost for this phase was $3,700 per acre. 

FIGURE 16. - Trail leading into the natural wooded area. 

The objective of this project was to demonstrate the feasibility of 
reclaiming strip-mined lands for a second use, in this case a public recrea- 
tion park. The objective was fully and satisfactorily accomplished. Fig- 
ures 17-18 depict the "after" scenes of the reclamation effort and invite com- 
parison with the "before" scenes in figures 2-4. 

The facilities and attractions required to make the park operational were 
provided by other government agencies, as follows: 

The Anthracite Museum (fig. 19) was constructed by the Pennsylvania 
Historical and Museum Commission through the General State Authority. An 
exhibit area of 27,000 square feet displays the history of anthracite, includ- 
ing a comprehensive story of anthracite from the mine to the consumer. In 
addition to the exhibit area, facilities include an auditorium, library, con- 
ference rooms, and staff offices. 

Lackawanna County through its Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department 
and the State provided matching funds and received a grant from the Appalach- 
ian Regional Commission for the construction of the paved access road and 
public utilities. 

The recreational, sports, and park facilities were funded through the 
Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, U.S. Department of the Interior, in conjunction 
with the State and county's matching funds. 


FIGURE 19. - Anthracite museum. 

stttof j%«.ci ^ " 

FIGURE 20. - Hoist. 

area may be constructed off the Perms 
adjacent to the park site, from which 
museum. In fall tourists can enjoy t 

A parcel has been 
designated for a forestry 
demonstration. The Forest 
Service, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, has planted 
various species of trees, 
shrubs, and grasses on the 
existing soil and conducts 
a continuing monitoring pro- 
gram to evaluate the 

The abandoned mine 
workings, two structures of 
which are shown in fig- 
ures 20-21, will remain 
intact to serve as a vestige 
of anthracite mining. 
Future planning may include 
restoring part of the aban- 
doned underground mine as a 
tourist attraction offering 
guided tours. Also a rest 

ylvania Turnpike's Northeast Extension 
turnpike motorists may walk to the 

he spectacle of the changing leaves. 


FIGURE 21. - Raw coal tipple. 

Winter activities include ice skating on the manmade pond and sledding down 
the rolling hillsides. Keyser Park is a park for all seasons. 

Disturbed land can be restored to virtually any intended second use. The 
second land use is limited only to the imagination and creativity of the plan- 
ners. The traditional uses for reclaimed land include reforestation and 
improved wildlife habitat, timber land, agriculture, pasture land, and 
orchards. Residential and commercial development presents additional chal- 
lenging approaches offering a greater profit potential. However, the demand 
for public parks especially with recreational facilities appears to be 

The cost of reclamation can be significantly reduced when the restoration 
work is performed concurrent with or immediately following the strip mining. 
This involves planning the second land use as an integral part of the mining 
operation. By comparison, the price of recreation land in large acreage par- 
cels continues to increase. The first consideration in any reclamation devel- 
opment should be a study to determine the most practical use for the reclaimed 
land. The study may include an assessment of the site in relation to the sur- 
rounding population and community needs, access from major transportation 
arteries, and socioeconomic factors. The technical portion should include an 
environmental plan conforming to applicable codes and laws, a review of cli- 
matic and hydrological conditions, and analysis of overburden and soils. 



Evans, R. J., and J. R. Bitler. Coal Surface Mining Reclamation Costs, 
Appalachian and Midwestern Coal Supply Districts. BuMines IC 8695, 
1975, 50 pp. 

McNay, L. M. Surface Mine Reclamation, Moraine State Park, Pennsylvania. 
BuMines IC 8456, 1970, 28 pp. 

Paone, J., J. L. Morning, and L. Georgetti. Land Utilization and Reclama- 
tion in the Mining Industry, 1930-71. BuMines IC 8642, 1974, 61 pp. 





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